Gilani challenges the leader of the opposition – Bring vote of no confidence if you have courage

Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that he could only be removed by the Parliament and would accept the decision of the house.

Mr Gilani seemed confident during his speech in the National Assembly on Friday in the absence of Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who on Saturday announced that he would not let the prime minister to enter the house.

Gilani criticized Nawaz-League leadership for what he said their ego and said that Nawaz Sharif could not run the parliament as it was not an easy job.

“I challenge you to bring vote of no confidence against me if you have the courage,” Gilani said.

He said that he was punished for protecting the Constitution of Pakistan. He said that nobody other than National Assembly speaker could de-notify him.

The prime minister said that he would honour the decision of the house but would not accept conspiracies and would not let anyone to derail democracy in the country.

Gilanis said that the PML-N should look into results of Multan by-election in which the PPP won.

Courtesy: Geo TV News » TheNewsTribe

More details » BBC urdu

Supreme Court challenges its own authority by failing to address the question of presidential immunity

The continuing contempt controversy

By: Waris Husain

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has been convicted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court for contempt of court, with implications that such a conviction will disqualify him from holding the office. Rather than levying the maximum punishment of six months imprisonment, the Court held the prime minister under arrest until the conclusion of the hearing, which amounted to 30 seconds. Such a nominal punishment shows that neither the Court nor the prime minister have delivered a final blow to the other. The Court may have taken the proper pragmatic measures to deal with the current political environment, but it will need to take further steps to legally address the central claim of the case.

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The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

A question of accountability

By Raza Rumi

The inevitable has happened. An assertive judiciary has convicted the prime minister even if the punishment was token — awarded for non-compliance of court orders. The prime minister’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, has objected to the judgment saying that the punishment awarded was beyond the scope of his original indictment. There are multiple legal questions surrounding this decision and only the full judgment will clarify matters. However, it is the political ramifications of judicial assertion, which are of import in today’s Pakistan.

The PPP’s victim card — of being wronged by the establishment and the courts — is not entirely unfounded. Yet, this Supreme Court is not the court of the past. The lawyers’ movement (2007-9) allowed for an unprecedented populist backing to the courts and now many vested interests and groups deem the courts a natural ally in their own quest for independence, leverage and profits.

Public officials must be held accountable for their transgressions. This is vital for effective governance as well as for building legitimacy of democratic institutions. In purely technical terms, the Court’s decision is a welcome one. No longer can the executive be allowed to trample on judicial orders. After all, a letter to the Swiss authorities seeking the reopening of a case against President Asif Ali Zardari may have averted the crisis. Presidential immunity in the international and domestic laws is a given. However, in hindsight, this was a great opportunity for the PPP to underscore the fact that it is always the victim of selective accountability.

The cases against President Zardari and twice-elected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were registered by their political opponents, i.e., military-backed arbitrary presidents; and the main opposition party, which till 1999 was on the right side of the establishment. This context cannot be divorced from the legal aspects of the case. That said, at the end of the day the courts decide on issues of law and fact. The truth is that the Pakistani state has used cases against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades. This is why the perception within the PPP support base especially in Sindh (and now southern Punjab) is that the court’s verdict is not a ‘fair’ one given that other political parties and state institutions have gotten away with far worse.

As for the Supreme Court, it has done its job according to its interpretation of the Constitution and law. That, however, will not prevent the PPP from using the conviction to ramp up its support, especially with the next election around the corner.

Moving on, the role of some TV channels and anchors in acting as lawyers, judges and prosecutors has been most worrying. Legal issues require informed debate and political commentary requires objectivity. Both were missing before and after the Supreme Court verdict. This brings us to the vital issue of accountability of the new players in the power game.

The higher courts are accountable via the Supreme Judicial Council. The latter’s record has not been encouraging, as far as holding members of the superior judiciary accountable is concerned. Similarly, the media — or large segments of it — acts as if it is not accountable to any authority.

Continue reading The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant

By: Tara Beteille, co-authors: Kalpana Kochhar

In our blog post last November, we discussed Pakistan’s decision to grant India most favored nation (MFN) status. We were hopeful about the gains from easier trade between the two, but noted the many stumbling blocks in between. In the past 20 weeks, both countries have made serious efforts to address these blocks. Things are looking good. Here is an update.

Both countries mean business

In addition to the goodwill gesture of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visiting India this April and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considering visiting Pakistan, important issues addressed include:

  • Pakistan issued an order in March 2012 to move from a positive list of 2,000 items for India to a negative list of 1,209 banned items. Pakistan intends to phase out the negative list altogether and formally give India MFN status by the end of 2012.
  • India, which formally granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 (but maintained barriers) has agreed to reduce its sensitive list of 865 items by 30% within four months. India has also agreed in principle to allow Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.
  • Both countries recently agreed to allow yearlong multiple-entry visas for business visitors, with visitors allowed to enter and exit through different cities.
  • The two countries have agreed to allow each other’s central banks – the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Pakistan – to open bank branches across borders to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth trade.
  • A second checkpost gate was inaugurated this March at the Attari-Wagah border to ease road traffic between the two countries. The checkpost, with elaborate security features and capable of accommodating 600 trucks at a time, will provide upgraded infrastructure, including new storage go-downs, wide roads, and a luxurious passenger terminal.

Opportunities and gains

Making borders irrelevant can have far-reaching effects for economic prosperity across sectors in Pakistan and India. Consider a key driver of growth: electricity. South Asia’s recent More and Better Jobs flagship report estimated that industrial load shedding in Pakistan has resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs. Trade between energy surplus and deficit regions could counter such losses — indeed, Pakistan is already in negotiations with India to import up to 500 MW of electricity.

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